If you have a contractor working at your site, and they are found to have safety violations, OSHA can hold you responsible as the company that hired the contractor. It does not matter whether or not the contractor’s work puts your employees at risk. You still retain liability.
Screen contractors before hiring. Set up a process (like a check list or form) to gather all contractor data before signing the contract. That may include information about their work comp experience rating, a copy of their safety program, knowing who is responsible for overseeing safety on a daily basis, and insurance certificates.
Look for new requirements for keeping the area around electrical equipment (panels, shut offs, etc) clear. This is from a recent National Electrical Code update:
Keep It Clear:
Proposal for 2014 NEC would sharpen requirements for clear work space
A proposed requirement for the 2014 edition of the National Electrical Code® (NEC®) addresses the ongoing need to maintain clear working space around electrical equipment that is likely to be worked on while energized. Energized tasks on electrical equipment are inherently dangerous, and the new requirement is based on the need to give qualified workers the necessary space so that their safe access to the energized parts is not compromised or impeded. An additional benefit of clear working space is that it provides the required ready access to overcurrent protective devices.
Read the full article here.
Fontarome Chemical, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company located in St Francis, WI (just outside of Milwaukee), received 17 citations from OSHA after an investigation following a fire at their facility last year. Most of the citations and accompanying proposed fines of $51,800 had to do with process safety management.
Several of the citations involved lockout/tagout, arc flash assessment, and ensuring employees have the proper personal protective equipment when working on electrical. That means fire rated clothing, the proper eye protection, face shield and hearing protection.
What’s important for companies to learn from this:
- If you are handling chemicals, make sure you review your processes on a regular basis and update your procedures if things change.
- Conduct an arc flash assessment, including single line diagrams and properly labeling electrical panels. Make any recommended changes to reduce the arc flash hazards.
- Ensure employees working on electrical (including voltage testing) have the proper training and personal protective equipment.
For more information on the Fontarome Chemical citation see OSHA’s press release.
Posted in News, Personal Protective Equipment, Powered Equipment
Tagged arc flash, CHESS, fire rated clothing, Fontarome Chemical, OSHA, OSHA citations, Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, safety, safety equipment, voltage testing
I was surprised to read how many workers die from being backed over.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 70 workers died from backover incidents in 2011. A backover incident occurs when a backing vehicle strikes a worker who is standing, walking, or kneeling behind the vehicle. These incidents can be prevented. OSHA has published a new Preventing Backovers webpage that provides information about the hazards of backovers; solutions that can reduce the risk or frequency of these incidents; articles and resources; and references to existing regulations and letters of interpretation.
The above was from OSHA QuickTakes. While this article, and a new page on OSHA’s website, focuses on construction, the safety practices apply to Public Works Departments or any company that operates forklifts or trucks.
Posted in Outdoor Safety, Powered Equipment
Tagged backover, backover fatality, CHESS, construction safety, forklift, OSHA, powered industrial truck, public works, public works safety, safety, worker run over, workplace fatality
It looks like our blog works, but our website was hacked and is in for repairs. What happens when the unexpected happens? Usually, you deal with it. Fortunately, we have a web designer who we could turn to for assistance and the necessary upgrades.
In any business, the unexpected is expected. That is one reason for having emergency plans. If you think about how to handle an emergency when there isn’t one, when one does happen, you have an idea of what to do and resources already listed. I always think back to a talk I heard about the bombing in Oklahoma City in 1995. The city had recently undergone emergency planning and drills. While there is no question that was a tragic event, it could have been worse without that planning.
And, just like our computers and website need updating, so do safety plans. An annual review will pick up changes that have occurred in business practices and in personnel. Keeping up with annual reviews of programs means the process is often fairly quick and not cumbersome.
We hope to have the website up again in just a few days. Thanks for your patience.
Lockout/tagout refers to securing tools and equipment when they are being repaired to reduce or eliminate the chance of accidental release of energy. What that means is that if you are working on equipment that could accidentally start up, or that someone could start or engage without you knowing, it needs to be locked out.
Failure to lock out equipment results in fatalities every year.
Review before acting:
- Is the equipment powered? Unplug it or shut it down at the circuit breaker and put a lock on it so no one can come by to start it.
- What are the other sources of energy? It might be pneumatic, hydraulic, gravity, steam, water, chemical, coolant, heat and gas.
It may be your life on the line. Lock it out to stay safe.
I was reading a recent OSHA QuickTakes newsletter and the press releases about companies that received six figure OSHA citations. What struck me was the seemingly complete ignoring of regulations. Four contractors in New Jersey were cited for failing to protect workers from fall hazards. Employees were working on a fourth floor of a building with no fall protection. Employees did have have personal protective equipment.
Another company was cited for 18 violations after an employee died. Employees were expected to clean plant equipment but were not trained on lockout/tagout. The employee was caught in between two augers–the equipment was not locked out for cleaning.
We can never guarantee no citations if you have an OSHA visit, but paying attention to the regulations and providing protection from hazards for your employees will certainly significantly reduce your exposure–to a worker fatality, to huge workers’ compensation claims and to OSHA citations.
Minnesota has a requirement that certain industries must have “A Workplace Accident and Injury Reduction”(AWAIR) program. This program serves as the basis for a good safety programs. The program spells out:
- General policy statement about safety: what are the company’s general beliefs and policy statement about safety.
- Safety responsibilities: who is responsible for what related to safety
- Communication: how safety is communicated to employees
- Hazard identification: how new and existing hazards are identified and then how they will be controlled
- Accident investigation: how injuries and accidents that occur in the workplace are investigated, root causes identified and corrective measures taken
- Enforcement: how safety is enforced (discipline policy)
When working with companies, CHESS makes it a standard policy to develop an AWAIR program as part of a greater health and safety program.
The AWAIR program is being used as one possible model for the national I2P2: Injury and Illness Prevention Program, a program being considered for federal standards.
For more information, see MNOSHA’s website or contact us.
Posted in News, Safety policies
Tagged accident reduction, AWAIR, CHESS, discipline, Minnesota OSHA, MN OSHA, OSHA, safety, safety communication, safety programs, safety responsibilities, workplace accident reduction, workplace accidents